A local UK news outlet, ECHO, has reported that its investigation revealed huge hikes in the price of PPE across councils costing them millions as they scrambled for equipment to protect people from coronavirus. Suppliers raised prices well above pre-pandemic levels, it said, adding to council’s spiralling coronavirus bills and raising concerns about profiteering by manufacturers.
In one example, Liverpool Council, from information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, spent spent around £4.5 million on PPE between March and the beginning of June. The council’s own procurement team estimates that inflation and price gouging cost Liverpool £1.1 million, but an analysis of the prices paid by the council suggests this figure could be as high as £2.5 million. Their cabinet member for public health said: “We worked extremely hard to get consistent supplies which we could use to protect our frontline workers and to support staff working in care homes … Prices were higher than normal, not just because of the demand but due to increased shipping and air freight costs.”
According to the UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) prior to the pandemic masks could be bought for around 12p per mask. But by April, some councils were paying more than 80p per mask and some suppliers were charging well over £1. Suppliers have denied taking advantage of the crisis, saying they were only passing on costs after PPE manufacturers, often based in China, raised their prices as global demand rapidly outstripped supply.
And take a look at GovShop if you are looking for international vetted suppliers of PPE.